A story Spencer told me, as close to verbatim as I can reconstruct it.
"The first time my mother had an awareness of material poverty was a doll called Pitiful Pearl. She was a doll that had purposefully thinning hair and an ugly smock of a dress with white polka dots. She looked a little fat, but my grandmother told my mother that that was because her family could only feed her with really bad food. That's how my mother learned about poor people."
And it turns out Spencer accurately remembered the incident that his mother recalled to him from her childhood. A quick search reveals none other than Pearl herself, whose full name turned out to be Poor, Pitiful Pearl — you know, for emphasis. Anyway, meet Pearl.
I think she looks like Angelica from "Rugrats" after having fallen on hard times. Spencer and I agree that it's cute to market poverty as something children should enjoy. What's even funnier is that they eventually decided to ditch the "poor, pitiful" angle and put Pearl in a fancy party dress. A see-thru fancy party dress.